"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sunday Salon and 'What Are You Reading Monday'

Puzzle cat (yawning)

No matter the puzzle, George is willing to sit on it.

Weather: Ugh. Gray and dreary. The Pacific NW is famous for this weather but it is still depressing when it arrives.

Family news: We finally have started to make progress on our needed bathroom renovations. First we had a designer come in and we will see her plan this week. Then we went to a design center ourselves and met with a designer that had some ideas of what we could do to update our bathroom and get moving. Lastly we stopped by and started the process of 'thinking' about new carpet. If you don't remember, we had a water event in December which has precipitated the need for these updates.

What am I reading/finished this week?

Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth. Eric is Native American and writes poems about his life on the Rez and what is means to be an outside inside. He and his family are the only members of his tribe on the reservation, so he often is made to feel like an outsider. I appreciate all of his insights though many break my heart. I also appreciate his love of the Beatles and how much they meant to him during his developmental years. Apple: Skin to the Core won a 2021 Printz Honor when the Youth Media Awards were announced this past Monday and it will be my first Printz book read of the list of winners. YA. Memoir. Print. 25% complete.

Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights
by Karen Blumenthal. This is a Cybils Nonfiction senior high finalist selection. The book, written for a YA audience, covers four aspects of reproductive rights: restrictions, reform, Roe v. Wade, and after Roe. I'm still in the section titles 'restrictions' which has to do with the history of contraception, sexual education, and abortion. Blumenthal is an excellent writer for this age group and I have found the text interesting, fascinating and maddening so far. YA. Nonfiction. Print. 15%.

No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History edited by Lindsay Metcalf, Keila Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley, illustrated by Jeanette Bradley. This is a Cybils Nonfiction Children's finalist. Each of the fourteen young activist are highlighted on a page with illustrations and poems about their efforts. Charming and inspiring. Example---Resonate: a haiku---No voice is too small / to solve a problem that's big. / Change ripples forward. I am not sure what age group would be the perfect age for this children's book but I am guess it would be 6-9 years old. It is definitely not for three-year-olds. My grandson and I sat down to read it, opened to page one, looked at the first page and decided together to skip it. Ha! Children. Nonfiction. Print. 50%.

Anxious People
by Frederik Backman. A bank robber takes eight hostages and then seems to disappear into thin air. The police interviews with the hostages are the weirdest things the police have ever dealt with. I started this audiobook back in 2020 and didn't finish it before the library checkout expired. I finally got the book back this week after being on hold for over two months. I am a Backman fan, every book I've read by this author is so creative and different. Audiobook. 60% complete.

A Promised Land
by Barack Obama. I understand that this book, weighing in at over 750 pages, is the first half of the Obama presidency memoir. My husband and I only listen to the audiobook when we are together in the car, which isn't that often these days. With 29+ hours of listening for the complete book, we will probably be working on this one for months. Memoir. Audiobook. 47%.


Ready Player Two
by Ernest Cline. This audiobook has gotten pushed off to the side because of the library checkout for Anxious People but I will get back to it as soon as that book is finished. This book, the second in the series after Ready Player One, was high on my anticipation list but so far I am not captivated. Wade, the protagonist in the first book is a brat in this one. Fiction. Audiobook. 16%

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival
by Amra Sabic-El-Rayees. This is a YA memoir by Sabic-El-Rayees who grew up in Bosnia during the genocide. She and her family are Muslim but it came as a surprise when all of her Serbian friends turned on her. This is another Cybils Nonfiction high school selection. YA. Memoir. Print. 14%.

This is Your Brain On Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and Drew Shannon. A Cybils nonfiction middle grades finalist selection. I think this book should be required reading for everyone not just middle grade students. With the polarization of politics and religious beliefs right now it would be lovely to figure out how to rewire our brains to be more accepting of people who are different than us. I also wish I had this book back in the day when I was teaching sociology classes at the high school. The information is very accessible and the examples are spot on. I am writing reviews for all the Cybils books I've read in role as a judge but I am not allowed to publish them until after we announce the winners. After February 14th I'll post one a day until I exhaust the backlog. Nonfiction. Middle Grades. Print. Completed!

The Radium Girls (Young Reader's Edition): The Scary But True Story of the Poison That Made People Glow in the Dark by Kate Moore. This is the YA version of the adult book published in 2017. This book is another Cybils finalist for high school students. I admit to becoming a bit obsessed by the horrific story of the dial-painter girls who were poisoned by radium as they painted watch and clock dials. When they became ill their employer denied that radium was the cause. Several girls fought for themselves and for all those to come after them for workplace safety. After I finished the book, my hubby and I watched the movie which dealt with only a portion of the nightmares that engulfed these poison victims. Narrative nonfiction. YA. Completed!

Politics: Biden has been busy, busy, busy. If you are interested in everything he has done so far in his one and half week in office, here is a link to the White House Briefing Room. It's a lot. I dare you to read everything (I didn't.) 

Music: I created a Spotify playlist of songs used during all the celebrations for the Biden Inauguration. Some of the songs are sung by someone else on the list than the group that sang it during the events but most are the same. I hope you can open this up if you want to take a listen. (Inauguration Playlist Spotify)

On the lighter side (just three this week!)

1. I normally try to avoid foul language, but this one is so funny I couldn't resist including it. When I showed it to Don he spit out whatever he was drinking he laughed so hard. Biden has been very busy...

2. It would be nice if the constitution were a bit more direct, don't you think?

3. This is us for sure. We think we've done a lot each week now if we have errands to run.


Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb Nance at ReaderBuzz

What Are You Reading Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, so head over and check out her blog and join the Monday fun! You can also participate in a kid/teen/YA version hosted by Unleashing Readers.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Review and quotes: WRITERS AND LOVERS

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

Book Beginnings quote:

Friday56 quote: 

Summary: Casey Peabody is determined to live the artistic life, the life she has mapped out for herself. But writing a novel and making ends meet do not seem to be simpatico and she is barely getting by. Add to this the sudden, unexpected death of a beloved mother and a bad breakup after a love affair and Casey's resolve and mental health are slipping. She lives in a tiny, moldy apartment attached to a garage and walks the owners dog for a reduction in the rent (page one quote.) She waits tables for her income at a popular restaurant in Harvard Square where she seems to be in a perpetual fight with the management (page 56 quote.) Nothing is going right. Then Casey meets and falls in love with two men at the same time. Both of them are writers and understand the creative life. But now what should she do? She knows she has to choose but choices are not always easy and they certainly have consequences.

Review: Last Fall my book group was putting out feelers trying to locate some new book selections. This book peculated to the top of someone's list because the writing was so strong. Ultimately we didn't choose Writers and Lovers but I went ahead and listened to the audiobook version while working on a jigsaw puzzle, trying to ignore the ugly politics that were demanding so much of my attention and energy. In a lot of ways I felt like Casey. I wasn't living my best life because of circumstances beyond my control. Apparently I never finished writing the review of the book after completing it in October. That was another problem for me in 2020---putting all the pieces together, like those of my puzzles, wasn't easy. So here I am reviewing a book I finished three months ago, feeling a bit disjointed and scattered. 

I did end up liking the book mostly because of the strong writing. I think the 'book beginnings' quote from the first page gives you a good example. "Admire me. Admire me. Admire judge and courthouse and seven sharp." I've met people like that, heck, I've been a person like that trying to make people admire me for something I am doing. 

Here are a few others quotes that I find compelling. This one is about raw grief:

“When I was visiting her a few years ago she hugged me and said, ‘Tomorrow after you leave I will stand here at this window and remember that yesterday you were right here with me.’ And now she’s dead and I have that feeling all the time, no matter where I stand.”

And this. I love it when my husband and I share an audiobook and talk about it, the book and shared experience, even years later.

“It’s a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone.”

Needless to say, I think you should consider reading this book, too.

Source: Audiobook checked out from the public library

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Starred reviews for winners

Every year when the Youth Media Awards are announced, I check to see how many starred reviews each book professional publications gave them.  There are six publications that regularly review children's books: School Library Journal, Booklist, Bulletin for Children's Books, Horn Book, Publisher's Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews. Six in total. How did the winners and the stars match up?
This year there seemed to be a correlation between winners and the starred reviews they received. There were only three books that earned six starred reviews this year and two of them won an award: Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming won the Sibert Informational Book Award and The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh also by Candace Fleming won the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.  Some years the books that receive the most starred reviews don't win any awards so two out of three was very good.
Five of the winners earned five starred reviews. Two were Newbery Medal books--When you Trap a Tiger and BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom. The Printz Award winner---Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story); The Odyssey Award winner for audiobook production was Kent State by Deborah Wiles; and a Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor book was a graphic biography by Tyler Feder called Dancing at the Pity Party.
Five additional awards went to books that earned four starred reviews. There were several books that got less starred reviews than one would expect but all in all I'd say that 2020 was a good year for those of us who pay attention to starred reviews in helping us predict the winners.
(I confess I lost steam for looking up the stars on all the honor books for each category. So I only listed the award winners for most categories. I am sure that many of the unlisted honor books also earned many starred reviews.) 

See the starred review numbers next to each book below. If there are no stars it means I couldn't figure out if they earned any or not.
John Newbery Medal 
  • Winner: When You Trap a Tiger,” written by Tae Keller.⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
  • Honor books: 
    • All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team,” by Christina Soontornvat ⛤⛤
    • “BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom,by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
    • Fighting Words,” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley ⛤⛤⛤⛤
    • We Dream of Space,” by Erin Entrada Kelly, illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien  ⛤⛤⛤⛤
    • A Wish in the Dark,” by Christina Soontornvat
Randolph Caldecott Medal  We Are Water Protectors,by Carole Lindstrom  ⛤⛤⛤
Coretta Scott King Book Awards : 
  • Before the Ever After,” written by Jacqueline Woodson. ⛤⛤
  •  R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul,by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Legendborn,” written by Tracy Deonn. ⛤⛤
Michael L. Printz Award  
  • Winner: 
    • Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story),” by Daniel Nayeri. ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
  • Honor books:  
    • Apple (Skin to the Core),” by Eric Gansworth
    • Dragon Hoops, created by Gene Luen Yang ⛤⛤⛤
    • Every Body Looking,” by Candice Iloh ⛤⛤⛤
    • We Are Not Free,” by Traci Chee ⛤⛤ 
Schneider Family Book Award
  • I Talk Like a River,” written by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Sydney Smith ⛤⛤
  • Show Me a Sign,” written by Ann Clare LeZotte ⛤⛤
  • This Is My Brain in Love,” written by I.W. Gregorio.  ⛤⛤
Mildred L. Batchelder Award: Telephone Talesby Gianni Rodari, illustrated by Valerio Vidali, translated by Antony Shugaar.
Odyssey Award: Kent State,” by Deborah Wiles. ⛤⛤⛤⛤
Pura Belpré Awards:
  • “¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat,” illustrated and written by Raúl Gonzalez. ⛤⛤⛤
  • "Efrén Divided,” written by Ernesto Cisneros. ⛤⛤
  • "Furia,” written by Yamile Saied Méndez
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award: Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera,” by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann. ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
Stonewall Book Award: We Are Little Feminists: Families, written by Archaa Shrivastav.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award: See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog,” written by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.⛤⛤⛤
William C. Morris Award: If These Wings Could Fly,” written by Kyrie McCauley.  
YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh,” written by Candace Fleming. ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. 
  •  Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist,written by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki
  • “When You Trap a Tiger,” written by Tae Keller  ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤
  • This Light Between Us,” written by Andrew Fukuda  
The Sydney Taylor Book Award
  • Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail,”by Lesléa Newman. ⛤ illustrated by Susan Gal.
  • Turtle Boy,” by M. Evan Wolkenstein.
  • “Dancing at the Pity Party,” written and illustrated by Tyler Feder. ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤